I took my father to the Bulls game tonight - just grownups this time, no nephews. The DBAP was packed, which had me scratching my head as we headed for the ticket window. After all, while it was a lovely evening, it was a Thursday and, not to put too fine a point on it, but it was Norfolk. In the words of Officer Barbrady, "Nothing to see here, people."
The surprise continued when I bought our seats at the walkup window. We were most of the way up in the last section in left-center, which meant that there was indeed a full house. Clarity returned, however, when I saw the big banner draped across the top of the stairwell leading into the concourse: Best Buy $1 Concessions Night. One dollar hot dogs, one dollar fries, one dollar popcorn - a great deal. And if the cynic in me notes that they're only missing the soft pretzels to have the Four Horseman of the Saltpocalypse on the menu and they're not dropping drink prices, well, that didn't stop me from taking advantage of the deal.
The game itself was mostly a grace note affair in terms of interest. Norfolk threw a sidearmer out there, and while he kept the Bulls off balance for a while, mostly it was their own impatience that was getting them out after a while. The more patient hitters, like ancient backup catcher Mike DeFelice, waited the guy out and then feasted on meatballs when he was forced to throw strikes. Fernando Perez continued to put on a show in the field and on the basepaths, Johnny Gomes kept on trying (and failing) to hit his way back to the bigs with one swing, and Joel Guzman got picked off first base.
But the real story (apart from the giant motorized shopping car that Wool E. Bull and Story, the Hurricanes' mascot, roared around the warning track in to distribute t-shirts by airgun) was Mitch "Wormkiller General" Talbot. Seven shutout innings, lots of swings and misses with his curveball, and sneaking up as high as 93 on the stadium gun every so often. Admittedly, the lineup Norfolk threw out there wasn't exactly what you'd call challenging - for God's sake, one of their big guns offensively was Tike Redman - but even so, it was a masterful pitching performance, and the highlight of the night.